Creighton Beats Drake 53-38 in MVC Final

ST. CHARLES, Missouri (AP) — Drake upset the No. 2 and 3 seeds to get to the Missouri Valley Conference women's tournament final. Once it reached the championship, it just had nothing left for its fourth game in four days.

The seventh-seeded Bulldogs were held to 33 percent shooting in a 53-38 loss to Creighton on Sunday. Carli Tritz scored eight of her 19 points during the Bluejays' 14-2 finishing run.

Still, taking the court was an accomplishment in itself for Drake after it won just four of its last 10 regular-season games.

"I couldn't be more proud," said Rachael Hackbarth, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds in the final. "I don't think anyone expected us to get into the championship game, so just to be here is a great experience."

Sarah Nelson and McKenzie Fujan had 12 points apiece for the fourth-seeded Bluejays (20-12), who earned their first NCAA tournament berth since 2002 and fourth overall. Creighton also won the men's conference tournament last week in St. Louis.

"Nobody shot the ball particularly well and Creighton deserves a lot of credit for that," coach Amy Stephens said. "We knew they were going to press, that's their style, and their depth really wore us down."

Drake won two regular-season games against Creighton and knocked off No. 2 Illinois State and No. 3 Wichita State en route to the final. Creighton upset top- seeded Missouri State in the semifinals and took control in the second half in the tourney final.

Hackbarth, the MVC player of the year, recorded her 25th double-double of the season. She totaled 65 points and 45 rebounds in four tournament games.

"She's a big reason we did what we did," Stephens said. "She's a terrific young woman who deserved every accolade."

Morgan Reid added 10 points for the Bulldogs. But Kyndal Clark, Drake's second-leading scorer with a 10-point average, was held to two points on 1-for-7 shooting

"Kyndal was operating on fumes," Stephens said. "You have to have three or four people in double figures and we couldn't get that."

Creighton played in the final for the fourth time in six years and won for the first time. Coach Jim Flanery had been the Valley's winningest coach without an NCAA bid, and is now 189-128, finally accomplishing it in his 10th season.

Creighton scored 11 straight points before Hackbarth went the length of the court for a layup with 1:03 to go, and Tritz was 6 for 6 from the line in the final 1:10. Flanery thought the Bluejays' depth wore down Drake, which has a short bench with all starters going at least 32 minutes.

Fujan, who averages just 4.5 points, matched her career high. She was 3 for 5 from 3-point range after entering the game with just nine 3-pointers on the season and one in the last 12 games.

''We came into the game plan playing her as a drive," Hackbarth said. "She proved herself at the 3-point line. We just didn't make an adjustment soon enough on her."
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